Houston Reservist Excels in Afghanistan, Sets Sights on Commission

24 Jun 2011 | Lance Cpl. Clayton Vonderahe

Lance Cpl. Patrick Robertson, a native of Houston, is a reserve infantry Marine with 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, and is currently serving his first deployment to Afghanistan.
Twenty-one year old Robertson graduated high school in 2007 and started boot camp in January, 2008. Coming from a strong patriotic background, his family and friends supported his decision to enlist, though he and his brother are the first in his immediate family.

Robertson and his brother were home schooled by their mother until their junior and senior year of high school; they attended Kingwood Community College in Houston and received dual credit for their classes that counted towards high school and college. After community college they began their journey to become Marines together. The brothers endured recruit training and the School of Infantry side by side.

“No one in my immediate family had served in the military so they thought I was kind of crazy when I said I wanted to join the Marines,” Robertson said. “I got my brother to go along with me. We definitely helped each other throughout boot camp.”

The brothers split ways after their training was complete. Robertson returned to Houston to become part of a reserve unit, 1/23, and continue his education at the University of Houston, while his brother went active duty and now serves in 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment based out of Camp Pendleton, Calif.

Robertson checked into his current battalion in the summer of 2008, and started his ‘fleet’ career as the remainder of the battalion was returning from Iraq.

“I met Robertson when we got back from Iraq. We came back from deployment in 2008 and he was there,” said Sgt. Francisco Vega, a platoon sergeant with the unit.

Before deploying Robertson performed his duties as a reservist, one weekend a month and two weeks out of the year, while attending college. His end goal is to become a commissioned officer in the Marine Corps.

“He’ll be good because he’ll have a little bit of both because he will see the enlisted side and the officer side,” Vega said. “You get Marines that you task out and they do what you ask and more, he is one of those guys. He is an overachiever, making everyone else look bad; making sergeants look like privates. He wants to be an officer, and he will fit right in.”

“You give him a task and he knocks it out,” said 1st Lt. David Wright, the executive officer for his company. “He goes above and beyond. Right now he’s been helping the surgeon go through a research project in his spare time helping compute data on top of doing his daily job. He’s definitely motivated.”

Robertson has already completed the first six out of his 12 weeks of Officer Candidate School. He needs to return from his current deployment, continue working on his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, and finish OCS before he is eligible to accept a commission as a second lieutenant.

“Officer Candidate School is very different from boot camp. Boot camp they want you to get through, they want you to become a Marine, to be the best person, the best Marine. OCS is more of a screening process. Only the best of the best are to be officers. They are really trying to make sure that they are part of that upper echelon. It was one of the more difficult things I’ve ever done with my life,” Robertson said. “When I get commissioned, I’ll go active duty. At that point in time, I will have made my decision that this will be my career. I would love to do human intelligence or signals intelligence. To me it is amazing the way intelligence can change the battle space.”

The potential for the future holds vast possibilities, but currently Robertson is doing his time in Afghanistan alongside the other Marines of his battalion. Those same Marines have recognized his potential and support his decision to advance his Marine Corps career.

“It will be an honor for me to salute that guy,” Vega said.

Editor’s Note: Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment is a unit of Regimental Combat Team 8. Located in Northern Helmand province their mission is to partner with Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan while conducting counterinsurgency operations.